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Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (13th December)

Dear aspirants, following are the links of various articles taken from various newspapers. Click the link to read further. To get notification, follow the blog. Thank you

1. The power play in peacekeeping

Prelims: About peacekeeping force
Mains: India is one of the largest (troop)contributor to the UN peacekeeping mission. And it is important to know how China’s involvement will affect India’s interests in this area.

Rising contribution of China in peacekeeping mission of the UN

  1. Having made a reluctant entry in peacekeeping (when it sent a small cadre of soldiers to Cambodia in 1992), China has now become the largest troop contributor among the permanent members of the UNSC
  2. More importantly, China is now the third-largest contributor to the UN’s regular budget and the second-largest contributor to the peacekeeping budget

What does this portend in China’s quest for great power status?
Is the picture that simple for India in geopolitical power play?

  1. In practice, a nation’s voice is in proportion to what it contributes towards the UN, especially funds — India’s contribution is only 0.737% when compared to China’s 7.92% and the U.S.’s 22%
  2. Troop contributions to peacekeeping do not get their due in UN power politics
  3. Pivotal posts in UN missions have always been with major fund contributors
  4. China has many pivotal posts in UN Missions

Selective use of VETO power by China

  1. China has used VETO power twice “over concerns over territorial integrity pertaining to Taiwan”
  2. China was against sending UN peacekeepers to Guatemala and Macedonia because they had established diplomatic ties with Taiwan

Importance of peacekeeping missions for China and its contributions in them

  1. In 2015, China committed a standby force of 8,000 peacekeepers and a permanent police squad for UN operations
  2. In addition, there is a 10-year $1 billion China-U.N. peace and development fund and $100 million in military assistance to the African Union
  3. It is no coincidence that Africa is where China has large economic interests
  4. Peacekeeping is said to be a cover for China to test its strengths in overseas deployments

How will it affect India?

  1. Chinese involvement in peacekeeping(along with its higher funding contributions) will put Beijing in the driver’s seat in formulating peacekeeping mandates
  2. And thereby affecting India in more ways than one

The way forward

  1. The truth is that though our troops have been on the front line of facing danger (168 soldiers lost in UN operations, till May 2017), the returns in UN power play have been low
  2. Peacekeeping missions are the raison d’etre(the most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence) of the UN
  3. And India’s generous contributions as far as peacekeeping troops are concerned should be key in its argument to have a greater say in the affairs of the UN. India must demand its pound of flesh

2. A Shared Cultural Map

The geopolitics around the Indian Ocean has placed Gwadar and Chabahar at the centrestage of an engaging chess game of power. The two ports also have the potential to become part of Indian soft-power diplomacy. The cultural ecology of Gwadar and Chabahar, defined by the idea of “Baloch”, make them suitable for such a project.

3. Regulating private healthcare: how the others do it

Two major hospitals in Delhi NCR — Max, Shalimar Bagh and Fortis, Gurgaon — are currently under fire from two state governments for alleged irregularities. Beyond the politics and optics, whether the use of the stick is appropriate in the regulation of healthcare in the private sector is a matter of debate.

4. Powering rural healthcare

Prelims: Indian Public Health Standards, National Health Policy.
Mains: The article talks about an interesting connection between renewable energy and Indian health care system.

What is the issue?

  1. Around 38 million Indians rely on health facilities without electricity
  2. Without access to regular power supply, numerous life-saving interventions cannot be undertaken

‘Powering Primary Healthcare through Solar in India: Lessons from Chhattisgarh’

  1. It is a study published by Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW)
  2. It has evaluated 147 primary healthcare centres (PHCs) across 15 districts in Chhattisgarh
    HIGHLIGHTS OF THE STUDY
  3. It highlights the role of solar energy in bridging the gaps in electricity access in rural healthcare facilities
  4. The Rural Health Statistics 2016 data has found, of the functional PHCs, 4.6% are not electrified
  5. The fourth round of District Level Household and Facility Survey data indicates that one in every two PHCs in rural India is either unelectrified or suffers from irregular power supply
  6. Positive part: The CEEW study found that the solar-powered PHCs in Chhattisgarh admitted over 50% more patients
  7. And conducted almost twice the number of child deliveries in a month compared to the power-deficit PHCs without a solar system
  8. The ability of solar-powered PHCs to maintain cold chains to store vaccines and drugs and operate new-born care equipment has significantly improved

How can renewable power sources help in this situation?

  1. They could help PHCs augment or even substitute traditional grid-based power systems
  2. It can facilitate reliable and uninterrupted electricity supply critical for 24/7 emergency services, deliveries and neonatal care, as well as inpatient and outpatient services

Continuous power supply has improved efficiency of PHCs in Chhattisgarh

  1. Continuous electricity supply must be ensured to cold chains at PHCs, especially in rural Chhattisgarh, which has an infant mortality rate that is higher than the average for rural India
  2. Further, patients showed more willingness to get admitted for treatment at the solar-powered PHCs due to facilities like running fans
  3. Also, 90% of PHCs with solar systems reported cost savings due to lower electricity bills or reduced expenditure on diesel

Can solar systems be scaled up in Rural India?

  1. Scaling-up solar-powered systems across PHCs in rural India is dependent on three factors
    FIRST
  2. To recognise the critical nature of electricity access in the entire health system infrastructure
  3. The Indian Public Health Standards has set minimum service-level benchmarks for all activities of PHCs, indicating that every PHC should have power supply with a back-up option
  4. The National Health Policy 2017 reiterates the commitment to improve primary healthcare by strengthening infrastructure
    SECOND
  5. The second is the ability to adapt solar systems around the local needs and considerations of PHCs including the burden of disease, weather, terrain, and power availability
    THIRD
  6. There must be a focus on making ‘Solar for Health’ a national priority

The way forward

  1. Significant opportunities exist to simultaneously address the multisectoral goals of energy access, energy security, resource management, and health outcomes
  2. Solar power for healthcare in Chhattisgarh is a crucial opportunity
  3. With evidence that scaling this initiative can meet national and regional ambitions for energy access and improved health outcomes

5. Perils of going cashless

Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill (FRDI)

  1. The “bail-in” clause of the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill (FRDI) has led to worries about the safety of bank deposits
  2. The Bill enables the government to confiscate the deposits of ordinary citizens in order to save troubled public sector banks

Cashless push a bigger threat?

  1. The push by government towards a cashless society is a bigger threat than the FRDI bill

How will this affect depositors? 

  1. Presently, depositors can promptly withdraw their money from the bank by demanding cash
  2. Such an event can lead to severe bank runs and destabilise the banking system because bank deposits are only fractionally backed by actual cash
  3. Such rapid withdrawal of cash deposits, however, may slowly cease to be an option for depositors as the world increasingly turns away from cash and towards digital money
  4. When all, or even a predominant share, of money in the world is digital, there is no question of banks having to meet depositors’ demand for cash
  5. It would also strip depositors of the power to withdraw their deposits in the form of cash to escape any tax or other forms of confiscation by the government

Why more emphasis on ‘cashless’?

  1. Banks have been a major source of funding for governments and their economies across the world
  2. Most of such lending happens through loans which are not backed by savings but instead through fresh money creation
  3. This, in turn, leads to economic crises and bank runs led by depositors
  4. A cashless world makes it easier for banks to carry out their business of credit creation without the risk of having to satisfy the demand for cash from depositors
  5. It also prevents recurrent crises of liquidity that are faced by banks

Other reasons

  1. Policies like negative interest rates, which would otherwise push depositors to rush out of banks to escape the tax imposed on their deposits, become more feasible under a cashless banking system
  2. Under cashless system, depositors are essentially locked in by banks
  3. Depositors in such cases will have no other option but to spend their money to escape a penalty on it

6. Govt, ASEAN in talks to take IMT highway up to Vietnam

IMT highway to be extended

  1. The government is in talks with ASEAN countries to extend the India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) highway up to Vietnam
  2. India and ASEAN countries are holding consultations on the extension of the 1,360 km IMT highway — from Moreh in India to Mae-Sot in Thailand — to Laos, Cambodia and to Vietnam

Other such agreements

  1. Another area on which the government is working to connect India with South East Asia is the IMT Motor Vehicle Agreement (IMT MVA)
  2. India, Myanmar and Thailand in 2014 commenced negotiations for finalising and implementing the IMT Motor Vehicle Agreement (IMT MVA)

Benefits of connectivity

  1. Connectivity can generate annually, an estimated USD 70 billion in incremental GDP and 20 million in incremental aggregate employment by 2025
  2. Connecting India with the Southeastern countries through a network of road will create jobs, market for crops grown in hilly regions of the Northeast which will also help growers in getting better price for their produce

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